Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect Christmas morning breakfast, ready in just about 1 hour! These homemade cinnamon buns are smothered in a sweet spiced eggnog cream cheese icing for a super festive and unforgettable holiday morning treat.
Christmas morning in a normal year can be chaotic with all the family arrivals, present openings, and kids on Santa- and sugar-highs. Even though Christmas 2020 will look different for most of us, there’s still no reason not to celebrate the day with some outstanding food.
These homemade Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls are ready in just about 1 hour, with creamy eggnog in the batter and in the frosting. I adapted my very much loved cast iron cinnamon rolls recipe into this Christmasy version with a few tweaks here and there. This recipe is everything I loved about those rolls – the speedy proof, no mixer, and fantastic flavor – combined with one of my favorite holiday treats: eggnog!
And if you love this cinnamon bun recipe, you’ll love my make-ahead breakfast ideas to feed a crowd on Christmas!
This is a basic shopping list for this easy cinnamon roll recipe, but the full list of ingredients is in the recipe card below so be sure to keep scrolling down to check it out!
For the cinnamon rolls:
- Dark brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
- Ground cloves
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Yeast — instant or rapid rise
For the cinnamon roll icing:
- Cream cheese
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
How to Make Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
Here are the steps for how to make these cinnamon rolls. The full instruction list is in the recipe card below so be sure to check it out!
STEP 1: First, let’s make the cinnamon roll filling and start the rolls. Mix the brown sugar, sugar, melted butter, all the spices, and a little salt in a bowl. Then, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a larger mixing bowl.
STEP 2: Next, warm up your eggnog to around 114° F and whisk the yeast into the warm eggnog. After a few minutes, stir in some nutmeg, melted butter, and sugar. Pour your wet ingredients into the flour mixture and gently stir them together until barely combined. Your shaggy dough will be a bit sticky.
STEP 3: Now, flour your countertop and knead your dough by hand for a couple of minutes until it forms a soft, smooth ball. Roll the kneaded dough and brush melted butter over the dough. Spread the cinnamon filling you made in Step 1 over the melted butter. Be sure to leave a little room around the edge.
STEP 4: Time to roll! Starting with the long side closest to you, roll your dough into a tight log. Roll the log so the seam side is down and press the ends in slightly to bring the log back to 1 foot. Slice off the rough ends and then slice the log into 8 equal pieces.
STEP 5: Ready to bake! Set the rolls in your greased baking dish with the seams facing inward to keep the dough rolled up during baking. Cover and let the rolls rise for about half an hour in a very warm spot.
STEP 6: While the cinnamon buns rise, preheat the oven. Once they’ve puffed up, brush the raw cinnamon rolls with melted butter and bake until the tops are browned and the cinnamon filling is gooey. Be sure to let them cool slightly before icing!
STEP 7: To make the eggnog and cream cheese icing, put the softened cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl and sift the powdered sugar on top. Then, whisk eggnog, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the bowl until it’s super smooth. Pour the icing over the warm eggnog cinnamon rolls and spread it around so it covers every roll. Serve warm and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t kill the yeast! You need these guys to make your cinnamon buns recipe nice and fluffy, so keep your eggnog between 112 and 116° F.
- Use room temperature ingredients. A shock of cold can kill your yeast and give you flat cinnamon rolls.
- Mix just enough. If you over mix or over knead your cinnamon roll dough, it will become tough after baking. Mix it together gently with a spatula and knead by hand for just about 2 minutes.
- Roll with patience. If you did over knead the dough, it will be touch to roll out. But all is not lost! You’ll just need to let the gluten proteins in the dough relax a little. To do this, roll a little and then let the dough rest for a minute. Continue rolling and relaxing until you reach a 9 x 12-inch rectangle.
- Find a warm spot for proofing. It’s essential that your rolls proof in a warm spot, which can be difficult to find in the winter. Here’s what I do: preheat the oven to 200° F for 5 minutes and then turn it off and open the door for 2 minutes. Pop the pan into the oven and close the door. You could also place the pan near (not next to!) a warm fireplace or heater. You want the air temperature to be around 72 to 75° F to get the dough to proof properly.
Why Are My Cinnamon Rolls Tough?
If your rolls turn out tough, there are two main reasons why they could be tough and chewy after baking.
First, if you add too much flour, the dough will be thick and chewy when baked. Go easy on the flour both when mixing and kneading the dough.
Second, over kneading your dough can also lead to stiff, hard cinnamon rolls. I knead mine by hand for about 2 minutes or until the saggy dough becomes smooth and can easily be rounded into a ball.
What to Serve with Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
If you’ve got extra eggnog, use it for a creamy Eggnog Latte! You can always serve these rolls after Christmas dinner, too, with a little Baileys or Khalua kick in your latte. You know, if it’s been a day.
If you love gingerbread cookies, you’ll definitely wanna try this spiced Gingerbread Latte. Skip the coffee shop and make it at home in a breeze! Those gingerbread flavors go really well with these cinnamon rolls, too.
Wanna pair up these sweet buns with some savory buns? Try these Cheddar Swirl Buns! These are always at my Christmas parties for a savory party food, and they’re great served for breakfast with some eggs and bacon or as a fun party appetizer with a charcuterie board.
Have Leftover Eggnog? Here’s what you can make!
For the cinnamon roll filling:
- ¾ cup packed (5 ¼ oz) dark brown sugar
- 9 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, divided
- 6 tbsp (2 ⅔ oz) granulated sugar, divided
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- Table salt
For the cinnamon roll dough:
- 2 ¾ cups (13 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ¼ cups warm eggnog, (112°F to 116° F)
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
For the cinnamon roll icing:
- 3 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup (4 oz) confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup eggnog
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp table salt
For topping (optional):
- To make the cinnamon rolls: Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter; set aside. Mix the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter, ¼ cup granulated sugar, the spices, and ⅛ teaspoon salt together in a small bowl; set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and ¾ teaspoon salt together in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the warm eggnog and stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and the nutmeg. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir them together with a rubber spatula until combined - the mixture will be shaggy and sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead for about 2 minutes, until the dough forms a soft, smooth ball. Roll the dough out into a 12x9-inch rectangle with a long side closest to you. Brush two tablespoons of melted butter over the dough, stopping within a ½-inch of the edges. Spread the cinnamon filling mixture in an even layer over the dough, stopping ¾-inch from the edges.
- Starting with the side closest to you, roll the dough into a tight log, pinch the edge of the dough into a seam to seal, and lay to the log on the work surface with the seam side down. Pat the ends back into the center of the log to bring it back to 12 inches in length. With a serrated knife, cut the log in half and then cut each half into 4 equal pieces.
- Arrange the rolls in the prepared pan cut-side down with the seams facing inward. Cover the buns lightly with a piece of plastic wrap and allow them to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350° F. Once the buns have puffed and risen after 30 minutes (they won't be quite double in size), brush them gently with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the time, until the tops are browned and the filling is melted. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow them to cool for 10 minutes.
- To make the icing: Add the cream cheese to a medium bowl and sift the confectioners' sugar into the bowl. Whisk in the melted butter, eggnog, vanilla, and salt until the mixture is smooth. Pour the icing over the rolls in an even layer and sprinkle with the sugar pearls, if using. Serve while still warm.
Storage: These cinnamon rolls will keep well in the pan for about 2 days after adding the icing, wrapped tightly with foil, and at room temperature. They don't need to be reheated but who doesn't love a warm cinnamon roll?
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